Posted September 23, 2011 by Ben Winkley in Films
 
 

Justice


It’s been a long time since Nic Cage has been a top box office draw. Not that he hasn’t been busy, it’s just that a mild disagreement with the American taxman means he’s been concentrating of late more on quantity than quality.

It’s
been a long time since Nic Cage has been a top box office draw. Not that he
hasn’t been busy, it’s just that a mild disagreement with the American taxman
means he’s been concentrating of late more on quantity than quality.

Although some have a soft spot for Lord of War, it’s been slim pickings in
the nine years since Adaptation,
during which time Cage’s trademark hangdog face has mooched its way through
such average fare as Drive Angry,
the National Treasure franchise and
the dubious remakes/re-imaginings of The
Wicker Man
and Bad Lieutenant.

His two-year golden period of Leaving Las Vegas, The Rock, Con Air and Face/Off now seems a very, very long
way back.

In fact, probably the best thing he’s been
in of late is a YouTube video called Nic Cage Loses His Sh*t, a compilation of
blubbering, yelling and other scenery-chewing that’s approaching 3 million
views. It’s worth a look.

Fans of that should take succor from the
fact that Justice does indeed contain some sh*t losing from the man himself.

Cage plays Will, a high-school teacher and
chess aficionado who’s pretty chuffed with the state of his life in
post-Katrina New Orleans. Married to Laura (Mad Men’s January Jones), everything is tickety-boo, until one dark night
when Laura is attacked and raped.

Whilst he’s maintaining a stunned vigil in
the hospital, Will is approached by Simon (Guy
Pearce
), who as part of a shadowy vigilante group offers to Sort Out The
Guy That Did This in return for nothing more than calling in a favour at some
point in the future.

Will takes the offer, the guy is duly
bumped and Will settles back into trying to teach the finer things in life to
deprived school kids. Until the
favour is called in – it’s his turn to bump someone off. But he’s just not that
kinda guy and a combination of his polite refusal and a set-up sends him on the
run from both the vigilantes and the police during which time he finds that
there’s more shadowy vigilantes in New Orleans than anyone could possibly think
plausible.

Can he figure out what’s going on in time
to save his name? Well, it’s the sort of film where the conclusion isn’t really
in doubt which means the ride has to be worth sticking around for. Sadly, it’s
not – there are some well-handled action set pieces and a couple of twists and
turns but nothing that will leave you agape.

There’s a kernel of a good idea here – you
can imagine that it was pitched as a searing commentary on the breakdown of
civil order after the hurricane in 2005 only to emerge blinking into the
release schedule as a negative version of Death
Wish
.

Pearce, returning to a substantial role
after his cameo turns in Oscar-winners The
Hurt Locker
and The King’s Speech
gives good quiet menace, January Jones, as radiant as ever, turns in the same
performance she always does while Cage mugs his way through the whole thing,
shouting when angry, blank-eyed when sad.

Cage can also be seen in Trespass with Nicole Kidman. Perhaps that will be the one to make him a box
office draw once more because Justice sure isn’t.


Ben Winkley